Four dorms converted to single-sex for fall 2004

Shawntaye Hopkins

Freshmen who were expecting coed housing will be disappointed next year.

They will find one thing missing in their dorms.

The opposite sex.

Four dorms will be converted to single-sex housing for freshmen next school year to comply with a recommendation made by the Campus Safety Task Force in July.

Other changes for next year include the creation of a leadership program and themed living options meant for upperclassmen.

Fall 2004 will be the first semester in four years that every dorm on campus will house students.

Freshmen will have the option of living in Barnes-Campbell Hall, Bemis Lawrence Hall, Keen Hall or Poland Hall.

The only freshmen who will be allowed to live in coed housing will be honors students in Rodes-Harlin Hall and students in the Gateway Community program.

The Gateway program will move from Bates-Runner Hall to McCormack Hall.

Mike Littell, chair of the Campus Safety Task Force, said the recommendations were made to promote safety and to help freshmen transition to college without the distractions of coed living.

Several dorms being offered to upperclassmen have been renovated. Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life, said students who have been on campus longer deserve the renovated dorms.

“We definitely want our upper-class students living on campus,” he said. “We know our upper-class students want to be in dorms that have been renovated.”

Upperclassmen will also have some type of leadership community in Bates, Kuster said. It will be similar to Gateway, but details for the program have not been finalized.

Pearce-Ford Tower will be the only dorm where upperclassmen can have a private room, Kuster said. The only exception will be students with medical needs in other buildings.

About 200 rooms will be set aside for private living, Kuster said. None of them will be renovated for one person in the fall.

Themed living options will also be implemented in PFT.

Littell said he hopes Western will be a model to other schools to make safety changes.

“The university is way ahead of any schedule I think we would have come up with,” he said.

Brandi Robles, a sophomore from Zionsville, Ind., said she agrees that freshmen in coed housing can be distracted by the opposite sex.

But dealing with distractions is part of the reality of coming to college, Robles said.

Louisville sophomore Charissa Hallnan said she doesn’t support single-sex living for freshmen.

“Freshman need that interaction with everybody,” she said.

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and campus services, said Western stopped requiring that freshmen live in single-sex dorm four years ago because there were space issues from renovations.

Tice said he is unsure about whether freshmen will feel safer in single-sex dorms.

“We’re going to have to try it for a year or two and see if it works,” he said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]